Our hearing process is completely mechanical; that is, it is dependent on physical movement. Whereas taste, sight and smell rely on chemical reactions.
Sound waves bouncing off the outer ear are forwarded on to the ear canal, to the eardrum, and then on to three tiny bones in the middle ear. Vibrations then pass on to a spiral structure, the cochlea, which transforms this action into nerve impulses sent to the brain, which interprets these as sound.
As early as the age of 20, a gradual decline in hearing commences. This is quite normal and generally does not lead to loss of hearing.
There are many causes of deafness. Genetic defects can play a role, particularly if a malfunction occurrs during fertilization of the ovum. Diseases like meningitis, shingles, measles, and others, can result in injury to the auditory nerve, as can excessive pressure being exerted to the eardrum. Gunshots and explosives are highly significant owing to their intense volume. Lovers of rock concerts and very loud music are often at risk of hearing loss too!
The disadvantages of being deaf are many, as these sufferers can experience isolation and segregation because of a lack of understanding of deaf culture by those of us who can hear.
There are fewer opportunities for advancement personally, emotionally and professionally. People who are not disadvantaged in this way often take every day activities for granted. For example, consider a deaf person who relies on sign language, attempting to make enquiries about a book at the library, ingredients in a medicine at the pharmacy, or asking for the number of a bus that goes to the city centre.
Fortunately there are people who make some effort to communicate with those who are hard of hearing, but this takes considerable effort, like written communication or text messaging with a cell phone. On the other hand, many sufferers have the advantage of being able to understand, to some degree, what others are saying, by lip reading.
Thanks to modern technology there are many devices available, which use sight and touch, which can alert a deaf person to the ringing of a doorbell or telephone, the sound of an alarm clock and even that of a baby crying.
There is debate at the moment about whether or not the department of social services should make sign language official in South Africa.
There are many ways to assist in making disadvantaged people feel less marginalized. For examply, inviting them into our homes and including them in places of worship, inviting them to participate at the gym or at sporting events where language is not paramount.
It is a known fact that deaf people are more grateful for the other senses like taste, smell and touch, and so introducing gentle massage with MatsiMela Home Spa creams and oils, having subtle fragrances like vanilla, rose and litchee, a hearing impaired person may experience the sensation more intensely than anyone else.